August 9, 2015

"You don't negotiate deals with your friends. You negotiate them with your enemies"

President Barack Obama said that opponents of the Iran nuclear deal should not say he considers Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to be a friend, because there is no need to negotiate deals with friends.

"You don't negotiate deals with your friends. You negotiate them with your enemies," Obama told CNN's Fareed Zakaria in an interview that will air in full on Sunday. A clip of the interview aired Friday on "The Lead with Jake Tapper."

Opponents of the deal -- including Republicans, some top Democrats such as New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu -- have repeatedly argued that Iran's supreme leader cannot be trusted. The Obama administration has argued that the deal is built on "verification" through nuclear inspections and not merely trust.

Zakaria asked Obama what he thought of a tweet from Khamenei showing a cartoon with an apparent silhouette of Obama holding a gun to his own head.

"Superpowers don't respond to taunts," Obama said. "Superpowers focus on what is it that we need to do in order to preserve our national security and the national security of our allies and our friends."

Obama continued, "I think that he tweeted that in response to me stating a fact, which is, is that if we were confronted with a situation in which we could not resolve this issue diplomatically, that we could militarily take out much of Iran's military infrastructure. I don't think that's disputable."

But Obama, who has spent much of the last few weeks making his public case for support of the Iran deal, said he was "not interested in a Twitter back and forth with the supreme leader. What I'm interested in is the deal itself and can we enforce it."

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